I love Chinese food. I think it's the mixture of textures and tastes. One never gets chance to be bored, because it's so varied. Much like life, a mixed bag of eventualities is so much more interesting than one long procession of either good or bad. The old maxim says that we must experience pain to appreciate pleasure. Hmm…I'm not too sure that I wouldn't trade all of my pains for a lifetime of pleasure…tell you what, work me a deal out and we'll give it a go. I can be no fairer than that.
Brainless Lawtonian meanderings aside, my thrust here (yes, yes, you can go rollerblading just as soon as I've finished here…now sit still and peel that panda just liked I showed you to) is that I feel that lots of modern musicians seem content to settle into a rut of their chosen genre and plough on regardless of how homogenised their sound becomes. That it sells is secondary. The world is littered with the corpses of a million one-trick ponies.
We need some variation, we need to think that we've spent our hard-earned cash on something that the artist has put some thought into.
Which is where I feel I am with the CD currently chugging along as I type. I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody's Business is the brainchild of new-rock band The Early November's vocalist/guitarist Ace Enders. This son of New Jersey has stitched an album together here of some startling beauty in places – contrasted against the output of The Early November, which although palatable, always failed to stick out from the others in the genre, at least to my ears.
I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody's Business is interlaced throughout by recordings from TV and radio programmes, wittering away in the background between tracks, so the listener is never left alone in those desperately lonely spaces between songs.
I had planned to go the usual route and pick each track out individually,
but Mr. Enders' cover technique has not only rendered several tracks nameless
(track one, for instance, shows the title scribbled out and tracks eight and
nine are annotated, but lacking in title). But I also get the feeling, probably
propelled by that linking background chatter, that this should be listened
to as one long flow of thought.
The titleless tracks smack of those wonderfully weird Icelandic sound sculptors Sigur
Ros, who had a nameless album full of nameless tracks. Indeed, the first two cuts on the album are camped squarely in Sigur
Ros territory and are genuinely "wow" inducing.
Other songs are spread about the genre spectrum; The Best Happiness Money Can Buy is almost New Country, whilst the following track is in the mould of Jeff Buckley in its fragility, lo-fi eccentricity and melancholia.
In fact this whole album is almost eclectic electric folk. I hear echoes of Joni Mitchell lurking in the sonic shadows, along with Loudon Wainwright and many more. After a few listens, I'm afraid I'm hooked. This album is the equivalent of an intensely personal, profoundly sad, aural postcard from someone you thought you knew, only to find you really didn't know them at all. Full of brooding darkness, Ace Enders appears to be exorcising not an inconsiderable legion of demons with his work here.
Did I say folk? Hmmm…well, it has more than a little of a Radiohead-ish vibe in places – for a fine citizen of New Jersey, there's a healthy thread of British pop running through the album. Superbly strange.
Confused? Thought so.
I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody's Business is nothing I can pigeon-hole
and neither do I want to. Is it folk? Yes. Is it rock? Yes. Is it that weird
middle ground where Jeff Buckley once stood? Yes. Is it grandiose like Sigur
Ros? Yes. It's all of these things and yet it's not. It's that rare thing...something
unique and original, whilst drawing on the same source that its influences
did. It's that thing called life. Remember it?
What this is, my friends, is an album you just need to buy and listen to.
I urge you to forget the mindless ramblings of yours truly and just listen
to it. I guarantee you that this will be in the domain of the smug/furtive
music lovers' secret hoards in a few years time, an album to be spoken of fondly
and then unleashed a second time around onto an unsuspecting public. A remarkable
piece of work in this age of "put that in because that's what the public wants
to hear", remarkable because it both embraces and ignores that mandate.
And, if you don't mind, Mr Enders, we'll have some more of the same and soon.